Rancho Santa Fe School teachers seek raises from school board

Teachers at R. Roger Rowe are looking to see a boost in their compensation after going seven years without an on-salary increase while neighboring districts have seen salaries and benefits increase.

A dozen teachers addressed the Rancho Santa Fe School District board before members went into closed session negotiations with the Rancho Santa Fe Faculty Association on June 4.

The board would be discussing the matter in closed session again on Tuesday, June 9, hoping to come to a decision. (After press time for this newspaper.)

Starting in 1996-97, Rancho Santa Fe teachers consistently received a bump in salary of about 3.5 percent a year, going up to 4.5 percent in 2007-08. There has not been an increase since the 2008-09 school year, although the last two years teachers have received an off-salary increase of 2 percent, which is kind of like an end-of-year bonus.

Negotiations with the faculty association for the 2017-19 school year contracts will begin next year.

The teachers spoke passionately about their jobs as educators and asked the board to do the “right thing” by changing a salary schedule that has remained stagnant.

Teacher Amanda Valentine said R. Roger Rowe School is truly unique because of its amazing teaching staff. Valentine said teachers not only create one of the best learning environments in the county, but also inspire and motivate each other.

“Our highly qualified and dedicated teachers are the heart of our school,” Valentine said, adding that she hoped the impact they have on the students’ education will be considered when deciding compensation.

Teacher Corrine Braun said she had options when choosing where to work, options earned by degrees from UC Berkeley and Harvard. She said she works alongside “truly phenomenal” teachers, but she wonders how long that will last with the compensation that is provided.

“There are financial sacrifices when you choose to be a teacher, but there comes a time when those sacrifices become unfair,” Braun said.

Braun said that Rancho Santa Fe’s salaries and benefits are among the lowest compared with neighboring districts, and some teachers have turned to moonlighting to make up the gaps.

“The lack of competitive compensation packages is hurting our ability to attract quality teachers and negatively impacts the morale of those who stay,” Braun said.

Teacher Janel Maud said 73 percent of kindergarten through fifth-grade teachers have master’s degrees, and 17 percent are enrolled in a master’s program — totaling 90 percent of the school’s teachers who have worked to better their education to provide higher-quality instruction for Rancho Santa Fe students. Teachers with a master’s in the Del Mar Union School District and Solana Beach School District receive 8 percent and 7.4 percent more, respectively, than teachers with master’s degrees in Rancho Santa Fe.

Maud said as the economy grows stronger, the district should be able to show their appreciation by adjusting the salary schedule.

“Show us that our time and effort that we give to enhance your child’s education is valued and respected,” Maud said.

“Excellence is achieved when people feel valued and appreciated,” added teacher Jennifer Burdis.